The first money came from the temples. Traditionally, there would be an animal sacrifice
to honor the gods, or a particular god or goddess. However, in cooking the meat, only the smoke would rise to Mt. Olympus
. The food went to the mortals. Each family would receive a certain portion of the cow, for example, depending on their place in the society.
At first, the temples were a small, local affair, but, as the population increased, they had to provide more and more animals. The clerics decided it would be easier to have the people bring their own small animals to sacrifice. To ensure that the worshippers would not find this overly burdensome, the temple offered them some pieces of metal for each animal. The coins were made from electrum, a mixture of gold and silver, which was abundant in streams riverbeds throughout the region, and they could be exchanged for limited goods and services. A person might accept them if he placed some kind of value on the temple where they were minted. If one was offered a coin bearing the the image of an unknown or undesirable god, (one said to be in conflict with one's own local diety), it would not be accepted. After death and before burial, a coin would be placed on each eyelid, a toll for Charon who ferries the dead to the Underworld.
The ties between money and religion run deep, and are worthy of a meta-node, considering the variety of cultures they encompass. Some broad parallels can be drawn between the two:
- The concept of guilt, or emotional debt. (especially Christianity)
- The necessity of faith in both systems.
- Abstract symbolism: "This money represents all the potatoes I can buy with it. This idol is a materialization of the divine."
- Last but not least, notions of power, from whence the money and blessings arrive.
Please, argue with me. I'm being pedantic. Add to my list. Correct my grammar. Respond!